Suspect in shooting of NYPD officer was repeat offender

ByMARK CRUDELE via WABC logo
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
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Candace McCowan reports on suspect Rameek Smith's criminal history.

TREMONT, Bronx (WABC) -- Information about the suspect who wounded an NYPD police officer before being killed continued to emerge Wednesday, as an outraged Mayor Eric Adams wondered why that suspect was still on the street.

Rameek Smith, 25, was shot in the head following the incident Tuesday night in the Claremont section of the Bronx.

NYPD Officer Dennis Vargas was treated and released from Lincoln Hospital a few hours after the shooting.

Smith was awaiting sentencing next month after he was caught with a handgun while not paying the fare at the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue subway station in Brooklyn in March of 2020.

He appeared in court on the case May 4.

"The arrest was March 2020, and for 20 months after the arrest, he remained on the streets," Adams said. "He finally pled guilty in December 2021. So you are asking yourself, 'He pled guilty in December 2021, why wasn't he in jail?' He was still out, waiting to be sentenced. The sentencing was pushed off for five months, and then you know what else happened? It was pushed off again."

The open case also prompted Adams to defend his ongoing crackdown on farebeating and subway crime.

"People want to ask why am I cracking down on fare evasions?" he said. "That's why."

Smith had nine arrests, two of them unsealed.

He pleaded guilty to robbery on Staten Island in July 2016 and received five years probation.

He was also indicted in March 2020 for criminal possession of a weapon, and in December 2021, after an evaluation of a court-appointed psychiatrist and judicial approval, Smith pleaded guilty and was placed under the supervision of the Mental Health Court.

His sentence, which could be as high as 2 to 4 years, would have been determined by the judge at the end of the mental health court mandate.

He listed his address as a homeless shelter on Staten Island and had relatives in the Bronx.

"He suffers from bipolar, you know, schizophrenia," one family member said. "Like you know, he's mental."

Some of Smith's family members showed up at the scene of Tuesday night's shooting and expressed anger over his death.

"Now I get a phone call saying that he's dead?" another said.

The Legal Aid Society released the following statement on the incident.

"Rameek Smith was a father and son. His tragic and untimely killing is devastating. Mr. Smith was released from New York City Department of Correction custody on a non-violent felony in March 2020, on consent of the Kings County District Attorney's office and the Court. Since that time, after being accepted to Mental Health Court, Mr. Smith complied with all of his obligations, attending every court appearance and consistently participating in programming to address his needs. Mayor Adams and the New York City Police Department's baseless claims that this case involves bail reform is patently incorrect and exposes the Administration's continued refusal to comprehend the scope and benefits of these reforms. If anything, Mr. Smith's case underscores the need for early intervention, access to services and community-based support. Lastly, we caution New Yorkers on crediting the Mayor's unconscionable fear-mongering about last night's killing. In the end, a young man, struggling with multiple ailments, had his life cut short, and the public should not lose sight of that regardless of incendiary comments from City Hall."

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